Given his background, Mr. Kueng thought he had the ability to bridge the gap between white and black worlds, Mr. Jones said. He often did not see the same level of racism that friends felt. Mr. Jones, who is black, recalled a road trip a few years ago to Utah with Mr. Kueng, a white friend and Mr. Kueng’s girlfriend, who is Hmong. Mr. Jones said he had to explain to Mr. Kueng why people were staring at the group.
“Once we got to Utah, we walked into a store, and literally everybody’s eyes were on us,” recalled Mr. Jones, whose skin is darker than Mr. Kueng’s. “I said, ‘Alex, that’s because you’re walking in here with a black person. The reason they’re staring at us is because you’re here with me.’”
By February 2019, Mr. Kueng had made up his mind: He signed up as a police cadet.
Only a few months later, his sibling Taylor, a longtime supporter of Black Lives Matter who had volunteered as a counselor at a black heritage camp and as a mentor to at-risk black youths, had a confrontation with law enforcement.
Taylor Kueng and a friend saw local sheriff’s deputies questioning two men in a downtown Minneapolis shopping district about drinking in public. They intervened. Taylor Kueng used a cellphone to record video of the deputies putting the friend, in a striped summer dress, on the ground. “You’re hurting me!” the friend shouted.
As the confrontation continued, a deputy turned to Taylor Kueng and said, “Put your hands behind your back.” “For what?” Taylor Kueng asked several times. “Because,” said the deputy, threatening to use his Taser.
Taylor Kueng called home. Mr. Kueng and their mother rushed to get bail and then to the jail. “Don’t worry, I got you,” Mr. Kueng told his sibling, hugging Taylor, their mother recalled.
Mr. Kueng reminded his sibling that those were sheriff’s deputies, not the city force he was joining, and criticized their behavior, his mother recalled.